Archive for Wednesday, October 26, 2011

City attorney’s letter claimed Loughry lied about previous salary

Basehor City Hall is at 2620 N. 155th St.

Basehor City Hall is at 2620 N. 155th St.

October 26, 2011

Editor's note: This is the second story in a Sentinel series examining events preceding the firing of former Basehor City Administrator Mark Loughry.

Mark Loughry

Mark Loughry

City administrator firing

Previous Sentinel coverage of the Basehor City Council's dismissal of Mark Loughry:

Sept. 19: Basehor City Council votes to fire administrator Loughry

Sept. 21: Vote sparks shock, questions at City Hall

Sept. 22: Loughry to clean out office; police chief asked to fill in

Sept. 27: Allegations, benefit questions preceded firing

Oct. 5: Council voids $50,000 severance check

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A 2010 letter from Basehor's city attorney accused former city administrator Mark Loughry of misrepresenting the salary he was paid by his previous employer, the city of Hays, during his negotiations with Basehor in summer 2009.

The allegation was one of four specific issues raised in the April 2010 letter from then-city attorney Patrick Reavey to city council members and Mayor Terry Hill regarding Loughry, who was fired in a surprise 3-2 council vote in September. The Sentinel obtained the letter, along with documents containing supporting evidence, in an open-records request last month.

Basehor City Council President Dennis Mertz mentioned the letter as possible justification for firing Loughry at the council's Sept. 19 meeting, after making the motion to do so.

The other issues raised in Reavey's letter regarded Loughry's opposition to Reavey's legal opinions on the separation agreement between the city and former city clerk Mary Mogle and on the possible annexation of three lots in the Cedar Falls subdivision south of Basehor, as well as an alleged revision to Loughry's contract to provide his family with fully paid health insurance, which the Sentinel examined last month.

Reavey's letter said Loughry had reported to Hill that his salary in Hays had been $86,000 and had written on a Basehor job application that it was $85,000, but a League of Kansas Municipalities survey had reported his salary as $76,000. According to a background check document included by Reavey as evidence, the city of Hays reported Loughry's base pay at that time as $77,800. Loughry was assistant city administrator in Hays at the time.

In the letter, Reavey characterized Loughry's behavior as an “unethical negotiation for a higher salary.”

In an email response to Reavey's letter sent in April 2010, verified as authentic by Loughry and a recipient, Loughry wrote that the salary he reported included an annual longevity bonus and a performance-related raise he was scheduled to receive at the beginning of September 2009, less than a month after he was to begin as city administrator in Basehor.

“This is a non-issue,” he wrote.

Contacted by the Sentinel for this story, Loughry said he would continue to decline public comment on anything related to his firing, based on the advice of his attorney.

Hill told the Sentinel he was aware during negotiations that Loughry's reported salary included the increase he was due to receive in about a month.

“It was no attempt to misrepresent his pay,” Hill said.

Payroll records from the city of Hays, obtained in another records request by the Sentinel, listed Loughry's annual salary as $77,800. But he was also scheduled to receive an annual longevity bonus worth 3 percent of his salary, bringing his yearly total pay at that time to about $80,130, not including a $6,000 car allowance.

But Erin Niehaus, human resources coordinator for the city of Hays, said Loughry did have a chance to receive a raise ranging from 1 to 5 percent of his salary at the beginning of September 2009, based on a performance review. The background check results included with Reavey's letter indicated that Loughry expected a 4.5 percent raise.

And the payroll records from Hays revealed that all city employees were due a 3 percent cost-of-living adjustment at the beginning of 2010, and that Loughry's longevity bonus in 2010 was set to increase to 4 percent of his salary.

All told, according to those figures, Loughry had a chance for his total annual pay to increase to as much as $84,140 by September 2009, if he received the maximum possible raise. By 2010, that number could have increased to as much as $87,500. If he received no performance-related raise, his 2010 pay would have totaled about $83,340, based on guaranteed increases.

Hill said his intention was to match the pay Loughry would have received in Hays.

“He could stay where he was and in four weeks be making more money,” Hill said.

Mertz, who was on the council at the time of Loughry's negotiations, said he was unaware then of the discrepancy between Loughry's reported salary and his actual pay at the time. He said Hill should have told council members about the issue.

“I think before we actually hired him, we should have known that there was a discrepancy,” Mertz said.

Fred Box, another council member who voted to fire Loughry, said Loughry's alleged misreporting of his salary in Hays was a factor in his decision.

“I feel like he lied to us right from the start,” Box said.

Box said he first saw Reavey's 2010 letter to the council sometime this past summer. He was elected to the council in April.

Reavey told the Sentinel last month that he had never intended for his letter to become public, but he stood by everything he wrote.

Hill said the letter was the result of a heated conflict between Reavey and Loughry, which was resolved soon afterward. Reavey continued to be the city attorney for about another year after sending the letter.

“It's unfortunate that the three folks who want to get rid of Mark are using it as a document indicating fraud,” Hill said.

Mertz declined to comment on whether Loughry's alleged misreporting of his salary played any role in his vote to remove him. He said he did not want to discuss the reasons for his vote because of possible legal procedures concerning the firing. But he said he wanted to assure residents that he had the city's best interests at heart.

“Any decision that was made was a business one and not a personal one,” Mertz said.

Comments

johninbasehor 3 years, 1 month ago

So as the article states, Mr. Loughry would be making over $86,000 a year without his $6000 car allowance within a month of moving to Basehor. Mr Loughry's family was also included in the health insurance that Hays, Ks. had provided him. No one would be dumb enough to move your family from a secure job to a new city and job, just to take a pay and insurance cut. So the bottom line is that the former city administrator did not provide any false information, and the salary and bonus he was due, the Mayor was aware of. The tone of this article makes me wonder if all this mix up could have been brought on by Mr. Reavey's secret letter to the council, in a possible attempt to discredit Mr. Loughry because of their disagreements. In all these moves, it is unbelievable that Mr. Box, Iris, and Mr. Mertz did not read the same information that we all have before us in making an educated decision. Before you fire someone and accuse them of being a thief and crook, you should have all your facts together. With the information in this article, it is obvious that this city council has made a grave injustice to Mr. Loughry, and unduly exposed the citizens of Basehor to a very costly law suit!

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babetwo 3 years, 1 month ago

jgreen1515 You are 100% correct. Now what do we do about it?

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basehordream 3 years, 1 month ago

He was not making $86,000. The Sentinel documents show his background check confirmed $77,800. When he was fired from Basehor he was at $89,773. How did he get more than the contract stated? We can all dream to get a 12% raise and bonus each year. That is not the case. I was recently informed by the County and confirmed by a Council member that the KBI has issued and served a subpoena for documents on the city. I would take this serious instead of downplaying the situation. Now confirmed that there is an investigation, is our glorious Mayor going to resign?

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johninbasehor 3 years, 1 month ago

Wow, there is going to be an investigation! Does that authomatically make the parties guilty? Basehordream seems to think so. And when this investigation clears all the parties that are being investigated, will the three members of the city council resign because of their small city jump to conclusions mentality? Lets hire Mr. Reavey back, so he can stir up another firing and law suit, and hope that we do not have any gossip busy bodies on the new council that will suck up the propaganda that is put out by a disgruntled employee. In the mean time, the citizens fork over extra thousands of dollars in an unnecessary lawsuit because of the three council member's pig headedness. I guess in a small city you get small minds and big payoffs.

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Ronald Grover 3 years, 1 month ago

As usual it sounds like people without the requisite knowledge and experience are making issues out of non-issues and inconsequental matters.

After 25 years in human resource management I would tell people hiring and contract negotiation should not be left to amateurs and people elected not trained and experienced in these matters.

One lesson that seems to be central to this issue is pay at a previous employer. Salary and compensation at a previous job is nothing more than a screening tool! Pay at a previous position is only relevant to keep from wasting everyone's time. For instance, if the grade level and compensation schedule of your position dictates a compensation of between $50-65K, why waste time with a candidate currently making $95K, unless there are extraordinary circumstances.

The way you hire a person, no matter if it is a person to push snow off the streets, a police officer or a city manager is first to determine the responsibilites and accountabilities for that position. From those determinations you establish and grade level and compensation program. Compensation DOES NOT just mean pay! Compensation includes pay, benefits, bonuses, housing, expenses and any other negotiable items on the table. From there you interview candidates and you try to find the person that will best be able to fulfill the responsibilities and accountabilites of the position. After that you negotiate the compensation package. If you are doing the right thing and properly hiring for any position the amount a person is or was being paid in a prior position does not carry much relevance in hiring for an open position. After all, in each position, even if the titles are the same the responsibilities and accountabilities will be different. The hiring authority has already determined the compensation schedule and you negotiate from that position of power with a candidate based upon their requirements and the economic climate.

From what I have been reading so far it appears either a red herring is being tossed out by people in the know or a group of people did a job in which they were not adequately trained and are now just trying to cover up.

Either way, from my perspective it looks like Basehor and Mr. Loughry have not yet ended their relationship. LOL

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Talisman 3 years, 1 month ago

3, 2, 1......Dennis Mertz is about to make yet another comment, after having "no comment!" lol

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careforthetown 3 years, 1 month ago

I know that we will see in the next couple of weeks how the Basehor City Council did indeed and will keep acting in the cities best interest. There are a lot of hateful comments on these blogs and it's truly disturbing and sad to see this kind of behavior from grown adults. I would encourage everyone to keep reading and fallow the developments over the next month or two. Hold your head up high and be proud of the city we live in. Please try and have some faith in are elected officials the ones that are not paid a yearly salary (+50k). They don't have a lot to lose or anything to gain by lying to the publicity. This may not be the case with a salaried employee or a employee that may be covering up their actions or an employee covering up the actions of another employees. When this is all done and there will be more things that the public is made aware. We can judge more accurately what has occurred and if the city council has indeed acted in the best interest of the city.

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careforthetown 3 years, 1 month ago

I know that we will see in the next couple of weeks how the Basehor City Council did indeed and will keep acting in the cities best interest. There are a lot of hateful comments on these blogs and it's truly disturbing and sad to see this kind of behavior from grown adults. I would encourage everyone to keep reading and fallow the developments over the next month or two. Hold your head up high and be proud of the city we live in. Please try and have some faith in are elected officials the ones that are not paid a yearly salary (+50k). They don't have a lot to lose or anything to gain by lying to the public. This may not be the case with a salaried employee that may be covering up their actions or the actions of another employees.

When this is all done and there will be more things that the public is made aware. We can judge more accurately what has occurred and if the city council has indeed acted in the best interest of the city.

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